Panels


Moral Theory and the Consequentialism/Non-Consequentialism Distinction

Convenor: Christian Seidel

 

Participants:

  • Vuko Andrić (Bayreuth University/Germany)
  • Annette Dufner (Bonn University/Germany)
  • Jan Gertken (Humboldt University Berlin/Germany)
  • Tim Henning (Stuttgart University/Germany)
  • Paul Hurley (Claremont McKenna College/USA)
  • Thomas Schmidt (Humboldt University Berlin/Germany)

Further Information


Axiological Implications of New Developments in Welfare Science

Convenors: Adam Shriver & Lisa Forsberg

 

Participants:

  • Victoria Braithwaite (The Pennsylvania State University/USA)
  • Adam Shriver (Oxford University/UK)
  • Lisa Forsberg (Oxford University/UK) & Anthony Skelton (University of Western Ontario/USA)

Further Information


The Moral Implications of Driverless Cars

Convenor: Christoph Schmidt-Petri

 

Participants:

  • Dieter Birnbacher (Düsseldorf University/Germany)
  • Armin Grunwald (Karlsruhe Institut of Technology/Germany)
  • Sven Nyholm (Eindhoven University of Technology/Netherlands)
  • Anders Sandberg (Oxford University/UK)

Further Information


Utility, Nudges and Behavioral Insights: New Technologies to Improve Peoples’ Behaviour

Convenor: Malik Bozzo-Rey

 

Participants:

  • Malik Bozzo-Rey (Lille University/France), Nudges, Behavioral Sciences and Utility: Some Normative Challenges
  • Anne Brunon-Ernst (Université Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas/France), Framing Consent
  • Viktor Ivankovic (Central European University/Hungary), Nudging, Transparency, and Watchfulness

Further Information


Hare’s Utilitarianism, Varner’s Animals

Convenor: Gary Comstock

 

Participants:

  • Gary Comstock (North Carolina State University/USA)
  • Susana Monso (University of Graz/Austria)
  • Alastair Norcross (University of Colorado Boulder/USA)
  • Adam Shriver (University of Oxford/UK)
  • Gary Varner (Texas A&M University/USA)

Further Information


Plant Ethics and Consequentialism

Convenor: Gianfranco Pellegrino

 

Participants:

  • Gianfranco Pellegrino (Luiss Guido Carli/Italy)
  • Marcello Di Paola (Luiss Guido Carli/Italy)
  • Tatjana Visak (Goethe University Frankfurt/Germany)

Further Information


Sidgwick and the methods of ethics

Convenors: Dorothee Bleisch & Michael W. Schmidt

 

Participants:

  • David O. Brink (University of California, San Diego/USA)
  • Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek (University of Łódź/Poland)
  • Tyler Paytas (Australian Catholic University/Australia)
  • Michael W. Schmidt (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology/Germany)

Further Information


Classical Utilitarianism and Free Speech

Convenor: Peter Niesen

 

Participants:

  • Frauke Höntzsch (Augsburg University/Germany), Hate Speech as a Restriction on Liberty. J. St. Mill's Harm Principle and the Limits of Free Speech
  • Anthony Julius (University College London/UK), Who Was the Greater Champion of Literature, Bentham or Mill?
  • Filimon Peonidis (University of Thessaloniki/Greece), James Mill's Theory of Free Speech: A Philosophical Assessment

Further Information


Philosophy, Obligation and the Law: Bentham’s Ontology of Normativity

Convenor: Philip Schofield/Piero Tarantino

 

Participants:

  • Malik Bozzo-Rey (Université Catholique de Lille/France), Norms and Obligations in Bentham’s Theory of Law
  • Emmanuelle De Champs (Université de Cergy-Pontoise/France), The Historical Sources of Bentham’s Theory of Real and Fictitious Entities
  • Anne Brunon-Ernst (Université Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas/France), A Special Case of Normativity: Indirect Legislation
  • Gianfranco Pellegrino (LUISS Guido Carli/Italy), Bentham’s View of Fictitious Entities and the Metaethical Framework of Contemporary Fictionalism
  • Philip Schofield (University College London/UK), The Place of Logic and Language in the Future Direction of Bentham Studies

Further Information


Jeremy Bentham’s Art and Science of Legislation

Convenor: Angela Marciniak

 

Participants:

  • Angela Marciniak (Gießen University/Germany), "Utility is not a Law": Jeremy Bentham’s Political Political Theory
  • Michael Quinn (University College London/UK), “In the Banking Business, Every Thing is out of its Name”: Bentham on the Magic of Papermoney and the Interests of the Bankers
  • Chris Riley (University College London/UK), The Hermit and the Boa Constrictor: Jeremy Bentham, Lord Brougham, and the Accessibility of Justice

Further Information


On Postema’s Two Books on Bentham’s Legal Philosophy

Convenor: Xiaobo Zhai

 

Participants:

  • Francesco Ferraro (University of Milan/Italy), Constitutional Rights: An Attempt at a Benthamic Understanding
  • Michihiro Kaino (Doshisha University/Japan), Bentham’s Theories of the Rule of Law and the Universal Interest
  • Michael Lobban (London School of Economics/UK), Postema and the Common Law Tradition
  • Simon Palmer (Leuphana University, Germany and University College London/UK), Postema on Bentham on Meaning
  • Dan Priel (Osgoode Hall Law School/Canada), Bentham’s Utilitarianism and his Jurisprudence
  • Xiaobo Zhai (University of Macau/China), Bentham and Postema on the Rule of Law
  • Gerald Postema (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/USA), Replies

Further Information


Effective Altruism: Normative Questions

Convenor: Stefan Riedener

 

Participants:

  • Andreas T. Schmidt (University of Groningen/Netherlands), Should Effective Altruists be Egalitarians?
  • Samuel Hughes (University of Cambridge/UK), Effective Altruism and the Ethics of Apocalypse
  • Teruji Thomas (University of Oxford/UK), Must Tiny Chances Count?
  • Stefan Riedener (University of Zurich/Switzerland), Effective Altruism under Moral Uncertainty

Further Information


Abstracts and Summaries


Moral Theory and the Consequentialism/Non-Consequentialism Distinction

Convenor: Christian Seidel

 

Consequentialism is a focal point of discussion and a driving force  behind developments in normative ethics, ever since Bentham, Mill and Sidgwick articulated (what is today believed to be) its most prominent version, classical utilitarianism. Indeed, major parts of the history of modern moral philosophy from then on - the works of Moore, Ross, Anscombe, Foot, Rawls, Williams, Nozick, Hare, Nagel, Scheffler, Parfit etc. - can be understood in terms of fierce criticism and illuminating defenses of consequentialist moral theories. Until today, proponents of rival ethical perspectives (deontology, contractualism or virtue ethics) continue to motivate and elaborate their accounts by contrasting them with consequentialism.

 

But in recent years, consequentialism has transformed. Some consequentialists have appealed to agent-relative axiologies (and corresponding agent-relative rankings) in order to model agent-centeredness within a consequentialist framework. This way, they claimed, just any moral theory - in particular those with  agent-centered characteristics which were typically believed to be the hallmark of non-consequentialism - can be couched in consequentialist terms such that both the theory and its  consequentialist counterpart yield exactly the same deontic verdicts. This maneuver, known as "consequentializing", allowed to conceptualize consequentialism at a more abstract level. At the  same time, consequentialists have reformulated their accounts in terms of (a teleological conception of) reasons rather than value or goodness - in keeping with the overarching paradigm in moral

philosophy to frame issues in terms of reasons. Although it would be premature to speak of consequentialism’s conceptual emancipation from value, one might indeed wonder whether there remains any independent role for those concepts that were once essential to (if not defining of) consequentialism - value or goodness.

 

The emergence of new wave consequentialism raises a number of questions for moral theorizing: Do we have to reconsider our understanding of how to classify moral theories as consequentialist vs. non-consequentialist? What good is a very broad, abstract understanding of consequentialism? Does the class of non-consequentialist moral theories become empty? Is "consequentialism vs. non-consequentialism" still a useful distinction? Or are we really after something different - and if so, how to capture it conceptually? What is the primary concept or the major distinction in terms of which we should classify moral theories - "consequences", "value", "reasons"?

 

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Axiological implications of new developments in welfare science

Convenors: Adam Shriver & Lisa Forsberg

 

Utilitarian decision-making procedures depend, at bottom, upon judgments about the effect of one’s actions on the general welfare. As welfare science continues to evolve and to develop innovative methods for assessing the mental states of nonhuman animals, we gain new evidence for the sentience (or lack thereof) of members of different species, which is potentially extremely important information for utilitarian decisions about which social reforms to prioritize. At a general level, understanding animal welfare has implications for how utilitarians should weigh the welfare of animals in relation to human well-being. And with more fine-grained approaches evaluating cost-benefit trade-offs such as those seen in the effective altruism movement, answering questions about sentience in difference species has important implications for whether animal advocacy campaigns should be targeting reforms related to mammals, birds, or fish in the food system. Moreover, research on nonhuman animals also provides additional insights into humans’ positive and negative mental states, which could potentially change how we assess human welfare. These and other developments in the science of well-being place pressure on traditional methods for conducting research into the nature of well-being. As such, there is a need to provide a systematic methodology for the incorporation of science into the philosophical study of well-being. In this session, we examine recent innovations in welfare science and examine how these innovations inform conceptions of human and nonhuman welfare and the methodology behind their development.

Victoria Braithwaite will provide an overview of modern methods used to assess welfare in animals.
Adam Shriver will argue that recent discoveries suggest that humans do not suffer in qualitatively distinct ways from other mammals.
Lisa Forsberg and Anthony Skelton discuss how discoveries in the science of well-being might impact in various ways the methodological presuppositions of philosophical research into the nature of welfare.

 

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The Moral Implications of Driverless Cars

Convenor: Christoph Schmidt-Petri

 

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Utility, Nudges and Behavioral Insights: New Technologies to Improve Peoples’ Behaviour

Convenor: Malik Bozzo-Rey

 

Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler have largely contributed to popularize the use of the word 'nudges' and have advocated the use of behavioral insights to develop public policies and build regulatory tools and technologies to influence people’s behaviors. They justify nudges and libertarian paternalism (‘soft’ interference with people’s decision making process) by claiming they improve individuals’ well-being ‘so they could be better-off, as judged by themselves’.
Yet neither Sunstein nor Thaler refers to or seems to be committed to any form of utilitarianism, as such. This panel proposes to study theoretically and through practical cases the links between utility and behavioral sciences as well as the way in which these new technologies can impact the functioning of our democracies.

 

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Hare’s Utilitarianism, Varner’s Animals

Convenor: Gary Comstock

 

Gary Varner’s book Personhood, Ethics, and Animal Cognition: Situating Animals in Hare’s Two-Level Utilitarianism (Oxford University Press, 2012) reconstructs and extends the two-level utilitarianism of R.M. Hare (1919-2002). Varner argues for the significance (at least at the “intuitive level” of utilitarian moral thinking) of the concept of personhood, and for recognizing some animals as falling into a related category of “near-persons.” Varner also describes in detail the nature of various categories of “intuitive level system” (ILS) rules, which include laws, codes of professional ethics, “common morality,” and “personal morality.” Varner also describes how two-level utilitarians would work toward improving animal welfare across time by advocating for changes in the various types of ILS rules. He argues that, as background technological, ecological, economic, and other conditions change, a community of moral agents committed to the over-arching goal of maximizing aggregate happiness would advocate for changes in the various types of ILS rules.

The proposed panel will critically assess Varner’s framework for re-assessing ILS rules in utilitarian terms as new technologies emerge, and Varner’s defense of the legitimacy of conceiving of personhood in terms of biographical consciousness.

Gary Comstock (Philosophy, North Carolina State University) will chair the panel and argue for recognition of an additional category of “far-persons.”
Susana Monsó (Philosophy, University of Graz) will argue that there are types of harm that we inflict upon animals that are not captured by utilitarianism, such as commodification or violations of dignity.
Alastair Norcross (Philosophy, University of Colorado Boulder) will explore the significance of the distinction between self-consciousness and mere sentience.
Adam Shriver (Philosophy, Oxford University) will examine the empirical evidence and conceptual distinctions that underlie Varner's account of personhood and near-personhood.
Gary Varner (Philosophy, Texas A&M University) will respond.

 

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Plant Ethics and Consequentialism

Convenor: Gianfranco Pellegrino

 

The ethics of plants focuses on the value of plants, the duties we may have towards and regarding plants, and the ways in which we should relate to plants in different contexts. As such, it may stimulate discussion within and about consequentialism, including what kind of consequences matter to plants if any, and what consequences matter when relating to plants. For some, a consequentialist approach to environmental ethics, and plant ethics in particular, is generally the fittest. In his work on environmental ethics, for example, Robin Attfield proposed a biocentric version of consequentialism that also applies to plants. For others, consequentialism is unfit to provide an approach to plant ethics as it may require difficult, or counterintuitive, trade-offs – for instance between human or animal lives on the one hand and vegetal lives on the other. Some consequentialists even consider plants not to be welfare subjects – unlike human and non-human animals.


The panel hosts a discussion on the role of consequentialism for plant ethics and of plant ethics for consequentialism. It includes three panellists: Marcello Di Paola (University of Vienna/LUISS Guido Carli Rome) considers the goodness of relating to plants as objects of a practice and explains why consequentialism may all too easily miss it. This should be avoided in view of both theoretical completeness and better plants-related policy in various important sustainability domains, including agriculture and urban design. Gianfranco Pellegrino (LUISS Guido Carli Rome) develops a view on the intrinsic value of plants: borrowing on remarks by Ronald Dworkin, Gerald J. Cohen, J. Brennan and A. Hamlin, Pellegrino claims that plants can have historical and particular value, as specific items and specimens. He discusses also the differences and similarities between natural items and pieces of art. On the basis of this, he puts forward a consequentialist objective value theory for plants. Tatjana Višak (Goethe University Frankfurt) takes a welfarist-consequentialist perspective, according to which plants are directly morally considerable, if and only if they are welfare subjects. She argues that plants are no welfare subjects. Her argument, unlike others, does not presuppose the truth of any particular account of welfare.

 

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Sidgwick and the methods of ethics

Convenors: Dorothee Bleisch & Michael W. Schmidt

 

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Classical Utilitarianism and Free Speech

Convenor: Peter Niesen

 

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Philosophy, Obligation and the Law: Bentham’s Ontology of Normativity

Convenor: Philip Schofield/Piero Tarantino

 

An unrecognized and unexplored development in the history of thought is the fictionalist account of the normative character of standards of behaviour, moral values and legal rules provided by Jeremy Bentham. With a view to filling this gap, Piero Tarantino’s research monograph Philosophy, Obligation and the Law: Bentham’s Ontology of Normativity (Routledge 2018) offers a comprehensive investigation into Bentham’s theory of real and fictitious entities, and – in particular – examines its application to the fields of morality and law.


By focusing on the concept of obligation, this book explores Bentham’s fictionalism, and aims to identify the specific features of ethical fictitious entities. The book is divided into two parts: the first examines the ontological and epistemological foundations of Bentham’s distinction between real and fictitious entities; the second part addresses the normative and motivational aspects of moral and legal notions. This work reveals the centrality of the following issues to Bentham’s legal reform: logic, language, physics, metaphysics, metaethics, axiology, moral psychology and the structure of practical reasoning with reference to the law.


This panel will serve to draw attention to the normative aspects and implications of Bentham’s theory of real and fictitious entities from an interdisciplinary point of view. It will be an occasion that brings together leading Bentham scholars who are specialists in different fields (philosophy, law, history, political science and English studies): Bozzo-Rey, Brunon-Ernst, De Champs, Pellegrino and Schofield. The panel debate will be of interest not only to those studying Bentham’s thought, but also to those wishing to understand the historical roots of the contemporary 'normative question' as an investigation into the action-guiding claim of the practical domain.

 

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Jeremy Bentham’s Art and Science of Legislation

Convenor: Angela Marciniak

 

Since the monumental task of creating a critical edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham began, scholars from a broad range of disciplines have repeatedly returned to his writings, for varied reasons and with varied goals. Given the extraordinary range of Bentham’s writings, it is unsurprising that scholars have tended to focus exclusively on the particular corner of his corpus that they consider relevant for their own discipline, and to analyse that corner as if Bentham should have shared the presuppositions of that discipline. Such an approach risks overlooking complexity, and even more the coherence, of Bentham’s project, and the way in which his generic analysis of the levers available, in any given context, to individuals and government, in pursuing and defending particular interests and the general interest respectively, constitutes an analytical method applicable to almost every field of human activity. The papers in this panel discuss different problems from different perspectives (political theory, legal history, political economy), but are united by the assertion that isolating elements of Bentham’s thought, and severing their connection with the generic nature of his approach, is likely to produce misunderstandings and misinterpretations (as has arguably been the case in all three fields). The panel will aim to illustrate the extent to which an inter- or cross-disciplinary perspective can shed new light on Bentham’s thought. The papers all present Bentham not as a lawyer, or a philosopher, or an economist, but as a theorist of public policy, or, in Bentham’s terms, a theorist of the art and science of legislation.

 

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On Postema’s Two Books on Bentham’s Legal Philosophy

Convenor: Xiaobo Zhai

 

Gerald Postema will publish two books in 2018. The first is Bentham and the Common Law Tradition, Second Edition with Postscript. The second is Utility, Publicity, and Law: Bentham’s Moral and Legal Philosophy. This panel will focus on these two books, and consist of seven speakers:


Francesco Ferraro (Università degli Studi di Milano): Constitutional Rights: An Attempt at a Benthamic Understanding. Focuses on Ch. 11 of Utility, Publicity, and Law (UPL), and argues that Postema’s account of the importance of constitutional rights falls outside of Bentham’s utilitarian framework, and that the importance of those rights could be explained in more Benthamic terms.


Michihiro Kaino (Doshisha University in Kyoto): Bentham’s Theories of the Rule of law and the Universal Interest. Focuses on ‘The Soul of Justice: Bentham on Publicity, Law and the Rule of Law’(ch. 13)and ‘Interests: Universal and Particular’(ch. 6) of UPL, and argues that Postema’s interpretation helps put Bentham’s theory of law in the English tradition of the rule of law, and that Bentham was a precursor of modern theories of deliberative democracy.


Michael Lobban (LSE): Postema and the Common Law Tradition. Looks at how Postema's understanding of the common law has modified since 1986, and considers what effect Postema's deeper researches on the common law may have on his reading of Bentham, and on issues of adjudication. 


Simon Palmer (Leuphana University): Postema on Bentham on Meaning: Traceability, Fidelity, and Normativity. Argues that Postema's interpretation of Bentham's views on language, mind, and world, yields a significant advantage over rival accounts of said views, given Bentham’s ambitions for his overall project.


Danny Priel (Osgoode Hall Law School): Bentham’s Utilitarianism and his Jurisprudence. Argues that Bentham is best understood as advancing utilitarianism as a public philosophy, and that, according to Bentham, we should think of law as a mechanism for generating normative guidelines for greater happiness. 


Xiaobo Zhai (University of Macau): Bentham and Postema on the Rule of Law
In a series of recent papers, Postema has developed a theory of the rule of law, focusing on the fidelity to law or the conditions of its realization, instead of legality. This paper will compare Bentham and Postema’s theories of the rule of law, show and explain the similarities and differences between them.


Gerald Postema (University of North Carolina): will give comments on the above presentations.

 

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Effective Altruism: Normative Questions

Convenor: Stefan Riedener

 

 

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